Pharrell Joins Virginia Governor to Announce Legislation to Make Juneteenth an Official State Holiday
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Pharrell Williams came to Governor Ralph Northam in Richmond, Virginia on Tuesday to announce the legislation that will make June 19 a state holiday.
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The popular artist and Virginia Beacher was at the forefront of proposing Juneteenth as the national day to celebrate the end of slavery in the United States.
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"Juneteenth deserves the same level of recognition and celebration," Pharrell said at a press conference. On July 4, 1776, not everyone was free and celebrated their Independence Day. So here is our day. And if you love us, it will also be your day. "
During the announcement, Northam said the holiday was "just a step toward reconciliation."
"It is time to increase this," said Northam, "not just a celebration by and for some Virginians, but one that is recognized and celebrated by all of us."
Pharrell added: "This is about observation and celebration. This is an opportunity for our government, our businesses and our citizens to show solidarity with their African American brothers and sisters. This year Juneteenth will look like no other Juneteenth before People of all ages and races - including our lawyers and allies - will find solidarity for black people like never before. "
Although the holiday is for executive staff this Friday, Northam said he would abide by the law to make it an official public holiday that would apply to schools, courts, and local governments.
This is the governor's latest move to reckon with the history of Virginia as a confederate state. Back in April, Northam signed a bill to cancel the Lee Jackson Day holidays honoring Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and decided to turn Election Day into a holiday do. He also announced that he would remove the Confederate Monument in honor of Robert E. Lee, but efforts have since been temporarily blocked by a lawsuit.
The announcement comes after nationwide protests against racial injustices continued in the United States. The death of George Floyd, a black man killed on Memorial Day in police custody in Minneapolis after an officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes, initially sparked protests in which the public is now reforming the police and criminal justice systems demanded.
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